Hello and happy almost-September to everyone embracing the change in seasons. Today, we quickly cover what the Princess of Wales wore to attend church this weekend and then look at a group of some of the most polarizing ensembles worn by the Princess.
The Prince and Princess of Wales joined other royal family members at church this past Sunday.
— OK! Magazine (@OK_Magazine) August 27, 2023
The King, Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, Princess Anne, and Sir Tim Laurence also attended services.
— Mirror Royal (@MirrorRoyal) August 27, 2023
The family is spending time together at Balmoral, the royal family’s estate in the Scottish Highlands. They attended services at Crathie Kirk, the local parish church.
The Duchess wore a hat by Hicks and Brown, the Suffolk Fedora ($130) in dark brown wool felt. Thank you to Middleton Maven for this ID; she confirmed with the brand this was the hat worn on Sunday.
The Princess has worn the style before. Below, you see her in the navy version when attending church at Sandringham in January 2020.
The lack of photos makes it difficult to tell what coat the Princess was wearing, but Regal Fille suggested the Holland Cooper Full Length Marlborough Trench Coat (£849, roughly $1075 at today’s exchange rates), and I think she is correct. Middleton Maven believes it was the ‘Tawny’ colorway, as shown below.
The double-breasted design is made in the UK in 100% wool with a fitted silhouette. Design elements include a self-belt, deep back yoke, shoulder epaulets, adjustable buckles at the wrists, front pockets with piped trim, and the shiny hardware that is a Holland Cooper signature.
As we approach the first anniversary of the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, media reports say the King and Queen are expected to mark the day privately. The Mirror reports the Prince and Princess of Wales will visit a cathedral in Wales on the 8th—more from this Russell Myers Mirror article.
The Prince and Princess of Wales will on Friday, September 8, visit St David’s Cathedral, on the day they will lead tributes to the late Queen. A year to the day of her passing, William and Kate – who became Prince and Princess of Wales on King Charles’ accession to the throne – will visit communities in south Wales to kick start their autumn plans after the summer break.
Prince William is on the day expected to lead tributes from the royal family, paying homage to the life and legacy of Elizabeth II, but any message will strongly “look to the future”, sources have said. William is not expected to speak at the cathedral but the couple will be shown around the ancient church in St David’s, the UK’s smallest city.
I have not put the event on the calendar because Kensington Palace has not confirmed the engagement.
Now for our look at some of the ensembles the Princess wore that spurred discussion and debate. I have broken them into two groups to avoid an overly long post. A refresher on how the outfits were selected, as written in last week’s post. I looked at the number of comments on posts, the content of those comments, people’s reactions when commenting on the outfits a second time in year-end polls, and how people reacted on the WKW Facebook page and other media. A couple of notes to keep in mind:
- These are not the most disliked outfits worn by the Princess.
- In many cases, comments were divided fairly evenly between those fond of specific styles and those not fond of a look.
- The items are listed chronologically. The underlined dates link to the original post for each ensemble.
- If items worn by the Princess are still available to purchase, I have included links to retailers offering the items.
- I’m sure there are ensembles I missed in compiling the lists. Please leave a comment or send an email to Susan@ .
OCTOBER 2015: Our first look is the lace dress worn for an engagement during the China state visit to London.
The Duke and Duchess hosted President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan at London’s Lancaster House.
The event celebrated cultural collaboration between the UK and China.
The Duchess’s dress was a design by Dolce and Gabbana, the Italian brand’s Lace Guipure Dress. The knee-length dress is a classic sheath with an internal slip dress with spaghetti straps. It also featured a high neck, long sleeves, and a concealed back zipper. The Duchess accessorized with Gianvito Rossi heels, her “Bayswater” clutch by Mulberry, and her “Empress” earrings by Mappin and Webb.
The dress itself was not unpopular; most readers thought it was a lovely dress and an elegant look for the Duchess. The issue for many readers was the choice of a lace dress for a daytime event. Fashiophile wrote, “The Duchess looks lovely – except wrong dress for the occasion as it is really a cocktail/evening dress.” Jessica noted, “I agree that this dress may have been a bit too formal for business meetings with a charity, but this function sounds like it was, in essence, a performance. It was a cultural experience, not a business meeting. Seen in that context, I believe that this look was much more appropriate than other commenters seem to believe.” Bunny’s comment summed up the situation very well.
The event was a benefit for the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. The Duchess chose the “Casa” clutch by Jenny Packham and her ‘Vamp’ platform sandals from Jimmy Choo for accessories. She also wore a glittering pair of blue topaz and diamond earrings by Robinson Pelham, the jeweler’s “Pagoda” style.
Her gown was based on a design from the Spring 2011 collection. The loosely draped bodice featured a sheer overlay with a neck-to-waist slit on the back, a full-flowing skirt, and a shimmering diamanté waistband.
A closer look at the waistline and the crystal buttons at the sleeve.
Fans of the look wrote about it in many ways, with Jordan saying, “She looks gorgeous and the dress has a very 1930s old Hollywood feel to it.” Others mentioned specific design elements. Kate Fanatic said, “LOVE this look—more figure flattering than the red gown worn to the state dinner…I like the juxtaposition of the long sleeves and the sexy slit at the back—I feel like that kept it from looking matronly and that if the shoulders had remained bare with that back, it would have been too sexy for someone in her role.” Some negative comments referenced the color, with Brooke writing, “If the dress would have been black or a gold, It would have been PERFECTION. However, this pale blue color makes it look dowdy.” Others were not fond of the design, with Suzanne writing, “But overall it looks matronly (as my mother would say) and just swallows up her small frame. Just too much dress.”
OCTOBER 2015: The very next night, we saw the Duchess in another evening gown that sparked conversation when she wore the Erdem “Alouette Tiered Silk Gown” for a 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala dinner. (The organization is now called 100 Women in Finance.)
The event was at the V&A, and the Duchess accessorized with her Anya Hindmarch “Maud” clutch (£485), “Cosmic” pumps by Jimmy Choo, the diamond bracelet believed to be a gift from Prince Charles, and the Queen Mother’s sapphire and diamond fringe earrings.
The silk-gazar gown was from the Pre-Fall 2015 collection and features a vivid print called ‘Ohani Tulip’ in a rich crimson hue with creamy ivory orchids and blue irises. The designer says 1960s-era Japanese graphics inspired the print. Design elements include a bateau neckline on the front and deep vee on the back, a tiered and gathered skirt, with the upper skirt tier having box pleats and a concealed zipper.
Those complimenting the look included Laurie, who noted, “While this dress is never what I would have chosen, I absolutely love it because it’s SUCH a departure from what the Duchess normally wears! I like to see her branching out and trying new things.” Emily Rose Reeder pointed out the gown’s references to the V&A’s collections and exhibition, “It was also a perfect selection for the Gala event as taking place in the Victoria and Albert Museum. They have hosted numerous exhibits celebrating Asian art and I think people did not consider that Catherine considered she would be showing up and giving a nod as an ‘ambassador’ for art within the British museum.” And Sherrie wrote, “The fabric is gorgeous and that is what makes it an evening gown and not just another maxi dress. Yes it could be chintz you might find on the veranda cushions but that is the fun of it.”
Readers who were not fond of the look had varying reasons, including this point by Reneé, “I don’t like the Erdem dress because the fabric is too heavy for ruffles and pleats and the print and its colours are too “loud.” Adrienne wrote, “I think the dress would have been a home run without the ruffle.” Katie wrote, “But when I saw the whole thing I thought, ‘Oh no.’ I just cannot get on board with that final tier, 80’s prom style, prairie style, what-have-you bottom of her skirt. It is just too much billowing fabric for such a bold print. I think if this was a skirt or a pencil or shift dress it would be amazingly stunning. But as a dress with such a billowing bottom, the heavy fabric and large/loud pattern is too much.”
MARCH 2016: Our next look is also by Erdem, but it was a coat, not an evening gown, that prompted debate. The event was the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey.
The Erdem coat was similar to a Pre-Fall 2015 style by the designer in a material that looked like it was needle-punched with a scalloped lace overlay. The fitted silhouette featured a high neckline and collar, slightly puffed shoulders, on-seam pockets, and concealed front closure.
A sampling of comments includes this one from Sara, who wrote, “I genuinely love this outfit. I think the hat really suits her and is a welcome change from her usual smaller ones.” Many concurred on the hat, with Jennifer noting, “Agree 100% with another poster who already said it, she can pull off larger hats and I hope she will more often.” Those who didn’t care for the overall look cited things like a feeling the ensemble was “too busy” with “too much going on.” Many did not care for the high neckline on the coat, especially when paired with the hat and what some described as “mismatched grey shades.” Elizabeth summed up many comments when saying, “While I think that the coat is lovely, between it and the larger heavy hat, she looks ‘swamped.’ It seems like it should have worked, but somehow just didn’t.”
The event was at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in northern France, the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world.
The Duchess wore Missoni’s “Long Snake Stitch Coat,” in the brand’s signature snake stitch (also known as a Bargello stitch, or zig-zag) in a fabric with black, grey, and white fibers; metallic threads used in the textile created a soft shimmer effect. The Duchess also wore a Lock & Co. pillbox hat, her Gianvito Rossi 105 black suede pumps ($795), and her “Eugenia” faux pearl earrings by Balenciaga. She carried her black Bayswater clutch by Mulberry.
The Duchess brought back the coat for an April 2017 Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey following a terrorist attack. On that occasion, she accessorized with a handbag from a collaboration between Beulah London and Aspinal of London, a Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. hat, and her Gianvito Rossi 105 black suede pumps.
The single-breasted coat featured an A-line silhouette with oversized patch pockets and a back vent.
Becky, a fan of the ensemble, wrote, “She looks chic and stylish but still understated and respectful.” Another reader with a positive reaction, Suzy, said, “I like the greys and pattern of her coat and whilst I often think she looks too ‘buttoned-up’, on this occasion it’s appropriate and gives a clean elegant look. Overall a good look in terms of suitability and elegance.” Those with negative sentiments included Claire, who wrote, “I’m not a huge fan of this outfit. The individual elements are fine, but overall it looks very severe, which isn’t something I’ve ever felt about Kate’s look previously.” Several readers commented on what they felt was subpar tailoring. Most importantly, Mel encapsulated feelings many of us had about the occasion, saying, “I find myself distracted from Kate’s fashion by the enormous sadness of the occasion (as it should be).” NOTE: I have updated the post to include information from the second time the Duchess wore the coat. The comments reacting to the look are all from the first time the coat was worn; there were very limited comments on the second wearing with even fewer covering fashion.
OCTOBER 2016: Yet another coat that generated debate: an Erdem design chosen for a day of engagements with Prince William in Manchester. The coat was from the designer’s 2016 Resort collection.
The knee-length coat was done in a bold print and featured a fitted bodice, wide, round lapels, an inset waistband, a concealed placket with snap closures, lightly padded shoulders, and two flap pockets on each side that hit near the upper hip.
We had several comments celebrating the navy shoes, as opposed to the neutral shades the Duchess had been wearing. The earrings also generated quite a few comments. Larissa, who appreciated the look, wrote, “I like the coat… It fits very well, it’s not too short, and I love the attention to detail with the fabric on the pocket flaps lining up with the rest of the coat.” Another fan of the ensemble, Mocro, said, “A bold plaid like this works best on someone as tall as Kate and agree this is one of the many times the outfit looked better on Kate than on the professional model!” Negative reactions included a sense that the combination of the coat’s many design elements and fabric combined for a “busy” look. Others felt the waistline was too high, and some commented the black lace camisole or top looked “fussy.” In her comment, S. Brown wrote, “The coat is a bit busy in my opinion, and the bit of lace showing at the neckline adds to the busy-ness.”
JULY 2017: The final look in this group is the Marchesa evening gown worn for the Spain state dinner.
This is a tough one to cover because of the lack of clear photos. Her bespoke lace guipure gown featured a deep scalloped vee neckline front and back, sheer, belled sleeves, and a full skirt with a demi-train.
The Duchess’s jewelry was a significant part of her ensemble, and it included the Lover’s Knot Tiara, the Collingwood Pearl and Diamond Earrings, and a necklace reportedly not worn since the 1980s, the Queen’s Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace.
Here is a glimpse of the Duchess as she arrived for the event with Prince William.
Embed from Getty Images
The ensemble generated a broad and varied mix of opinions. Margaret wrote, “This is a fabulous look in my opinion. Love the dress, amazing jewellery, and her hair and makeup. Of course the jewellery is a little OTT. She is a duchess at an important occasion – she needs to stand out a little!” Melanie said, “Take off a piece before leaving the house? No way! I would say, ‘thank you ma’am, may I have another?’” Another fan of the ensemble, SM, noted, “This is a gorgeous dress that is referential to past fashion at court while also incorporating current trends. Does she look over the top? Yes. Is one supposed to look over the top when they’re attending a state banquet with two European royals and are also themselves a future Queen? Um yes.” ElizaMo referenced the gown’s sleeves in part of her comment: “The current craze for gathered bell sleeves is one I view as something of a curse. They are frequently ugly and border on disastrous when coupled with further ruffles such as at the hem. Kate’s natural restraint has kept hers in proportion and produced something that complements a grandiose setting while balanced by extra fullness in the skirt.”
Those less fond of the look included Helen, who wrote, “This combination just isn’t working for me. That necklace is a stunner but it begs for different tiara and earrings – demure pearls seem like the wrong stone, and the overall jewelry effect is very heavy.” Lulu concurred, commenting, “The lace, exposed back, exposed front, bell sleeves, full skirt, and all that jewellery – there is far too much going on.”
Apologies for this not being published the first of the week, as promised. We were without electricity from Thursday night until Monday and without internet until Tuesday. Barring thunderstorms and tornadoes, I will have the second part published early next week.